Posts Tagged ‘artisan guild’

Small Brighid Doll by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Although I don’t have much time to craft these days, I gleefully signed up for the ADF Artisan Guild Imbolc exchange. The group decided that everyone should make something small, and we decided on the amount of time it should take and the general cost.  I was excited enough to participate and do a little sewing, but was absolutely over the moon when I saw that my partner was my dear friend, R!  She and I got back to my Utica days, when I was first exploring Paganism.  We bonded over an interest in ADF, and she encouraged me to make the drive to Muin Mound in Syracuse.  Life took us to different corners of NY, and we don’t get to see each other as often as we used to, but we still bond over our shared interests and meet up whenever we can.

R indicated that, despite her Norse hearth culture, she has an interest in Brighid.  I decided to make her a small Brighid doll, since the exchange was for Imbolc.  I repurposed a blue wool sweater by felting it, and used a little for Brighid’s body. Folk art inspired me to leave the face blank.  I usually love painting faces on my dolls, but I really think my decision works for this small doll.  It gives her a very solemn look, and the individual regarding the doll will inherently known how they feel she should look.

R’s Fairy Cottage, 2015

In exchange, R surprised me with this adorable fairy cottage made with polymer clay and a repurposed jar.  I love all the whimsical details – right down to the woodgrain on the door! There are even little windows on each side, and Bee loves to peer in.  It has be excited for spring with all the pink flowers!

Funnily enough, we actually were able to meet up a couple weeks after receiving our gifts.  Her girlfriend happened to have a hockey tournament in the area, so we met for lunch.  It felt wonderful to reconnect.  Hoping to do more of that come the warmer weather!

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Today I received word that my Devotional Practice essay passed review!  I’m posting it here for you to read.


Since completing my “Art Muse Essay” in 2010, I’ve been working with Brighid in my artistic pursuits, most of which involve fabric and fiber.  Seán Ó Duinn, author of The Rites of Brigid Goddess and Saint, explained several Irish customs and beliefs linking Brighid to fabric, fiber, and traditionally female art, in addition to her well-known association with blacksmithing.  Upon learning about her textile associations, I felt even more strongly that I should thank her for the talent and inspiration she blesses me with.  In an effort to build a stronger relationship with her, I’ve done my best to perform a very simple rite each time I embark on creative projects.

In my “Art Muse Essay”, I explained that I was lighting a candle for her prior to artistic work.  This practice has evolved over that last few years.  Originally, I was using the same candle I light on my flame keeping shift as part of my work with the Brighid’s Hearth SIG.  I have since decided that I want to save that candle for my flame keeping shifts or healing work.  They are less frequent whereas I am always sewing, crocheting, felting, or drawing something!  I required an alternative – something specific to my artistic rite.

Somewhere along the way I decided that incense would be a good offering.  Unverified personal gnosis told me to offer “fiery” blends.  Brighid seems very pleased with cinnamon, clove, and sunny-smelling lemongrass.  I’ve offered floral blends before, such as heather, and the incense tends not to burn fully.  It’s as if Brighid says she’s had enough and pinches it out.  Occasionally, when I am feeling ill and worry that incense will bother my senses, I have offered cups of herbal tea.  Once more, I use cinnamon or other “fiery spices.”  The blend of fire, water, and herbs is very pleasing to her and I have had good experiences with this offering as well.

Prior to beginning my work, I stand before Brighid’s altar.  It sits above my stove, which feels like the most appropriate place given her fiery associations.  I then light a stick or cone of incense and say the prayer I wrote.  Like my ritual of thanks, it has gone through several revisions.

Lady Brighid

Great Goddess of arts and crafts

You who put the fire in my head

You who bless me with talent and inspiration –

I thank you for your blessings.

I pray that you continue to bless me with talent and inspiration.

I pray that my art improves and continues to bring a smile to you.

May you know my love, gratitude, and worship in all I say and do.

May I bring honor to you in my work!

Lady Brighid, please accept my offering!

I then place the incense in its holder and begin my workings.  The scent wafts through my home and reminds me of her presence.  I try my best to do this act of devotion every day I set about artistic pursuits.  Although I have not felt the need, I can imagine myself using this rite, with an altered prayer, to ask for inspiration.  Thus far, Brighid puts the fire in my head almost every day, and there has been no drought of projects for me to embark on!

Since beginning to perform this personal rite, I have felt my bond with Brighid grow and strengthen.  I frequently receive bursts of inspiration and feel her warmth regularly.  I believe this to be reciprocity.  I ask for inspiration, receive it, and send her my thanks and gifts of incense purchases especially for her.   The cycle continues! I’ve felt a deeper connection to my artistic pursuits – and not just with regards to Brighid.  I have started to recognize a deepening bond to my female ancestors, especially when I practice very traditional arts such as hand stitching and spinning with a drop spindle.  I wonder about my old Irish ancestors.  Did they remember Brighid, as the Goddess or Saint, on Imbolc?  Did they think of her when they knit a warm sweater?  Did they have a cherished bit of fabric that they put out each Imbolc eve to use as a healing object?  I wonder, imagine, and feel myself becoming a part of a large tapestry of tradition going back into antiquity.

The only negative aspect of my artistic rite to Brighid is that I feel my relationship with my other patron has been ignored.  I do not feel as bonded and this must be remedied.  Working with Brighid in my artistic pursuits has taught me what it means to live Paganism.  I do not just pay lip service to her on Imbolc, but honor her and thank her each day.  I know I can do this in other areas of my life, thus deepening my bonds with other deities and Kindred.  Brighid has inspired me again!


Ó Duinn, Seán.  The Rites of Brigid Goddess and Saint.  Dublin:
Columba Press, 2005.

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A beautiful Dagda ATC by Autumn Aelwyd


I came home to find this wonderful artisan trading card in my mailbox.  Isn’t he amazing?  It’s a tiny oil painting, on a tiny canvas, of An Dagda by Autumn Aelwyd.  There are two very satisfying things about this ATC.  First, Autumn’s portrayal is pretty much exactly how I see him.  Even the eyes!  Then, if you look in the background, you can see what looks like one of my tree spirits!  I giggled happily when I saw that.  Thank you, Autumn!  This is truly a treasure!  It is going on my altar!

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I recently posted about how I was anticipating Wellspring as a way to rejuvenate my Druidic studies and practice.  Weretoad and I were able to attend from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.  For those of you who don’t know, Wellspring is a major ADF Druid festival held at the Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, NY.  There are large rituals, initiations, consecrations, workshops, competitions, concerts, and potlucks.  Always a good time!   This year was a busy and sometimes frustrating weekend, but it’s all worth it for the learning, fellowship, and reinvigoration that occurs.  I also got to meet fellow blogger Inahawksi!   I took a few photos to share but am quickly realizing that I much prefer a digital SLR to the built-in camera on my iphone.  It works well but it’s so hard to hold still and focus – especially in the sun.  I apologize for the blurry ones!

Stonecreed Grove, the hosts of the event, have been making improvements to the old nemeton. They’ve replaced the rotting, wooden idols of the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper with new stone versions made by an ADF artisan. They’re visually striking as you approach!  At night, when the flames shine upon them, they are truly breathtaking.

The  Gatekeeper with offerings.
The Earth Mother with offerings.
A major activity I helped to organize was weekend-long flametending  through the Brighid special interest group (SIG).  Fellow member, Bonnie, was absolutely amazing at coordinating with Stonecreed  Grove, providing incense for people to give as offerings  when needed, and working with The Magical Druid  to obtain special Brighid tokens as thank-yous for people who took part.  This kept me very busy as I made a point to tend to the shrine three to four times a day, sometimes meeting with other members.  It was wonderful to put faces to names and join them in such a sacred act.    We learned much from our first year of this and want to continue, possibly expanding to other ADF festivals.  It was interesting and moving to watch the shrine grow with offerings over the weekend.  Brighid is very much adored by many Druids.
As I said, there were competitions.  The Warriors Guild  showed their physical prowess on the field but I did not get an opportunity to attend what with all the other activities.  I participated in the Artisan Competition (I submitted the doll Blodeuwedd I’ve shown before).  That was a really stunning art show.  So many beautiful pieces in different mediums!  Meeting with my fellow Artisans was fun and we came up with a lot of great ideas for the next year.  Finally, Wellspring is known for its bardic competition.  Adults and children alike competed  and there were some excellent examples of voice, composition, poetry, and storytelling.  Ian Corrigan won in the end  so congrats to him!  He’s got such an impressive voice and personality.   Truly, ADF has so many talented folk.  I am very proud of us!
Near the nemeton is the Runestead – an area Heathens use to worship the Norse Gods.  I just love the runic fence!  Hubby and I made a visit to pay our respects to the Gods of the rest of our bloodline.  We especially wanted to say hello to Thor.
In  a shaded area, towards the back of the forest, is a dark, ghostly figure – a crone-like Goddess with sagging breasts  and decaying limbs.  She is an impressive, powerful idol.  I always feel a bit apprehensive approaching her.  I half suspect she’ll suddenly look up or reach out…!
Because of timing, I was only able to attend one workshop this year – but it was an interesting one for both me and my husband – brewing!  Robb (far left) lead the workshop, demonstrating how to make beer but also discussing the methods used to make wine and mead.  Robb is certified to judge brewing and actually handles yet another ADF competition – the Brewers’ Guild competition!  (I sampled a few entries – delish!)    He was very encouraging and knowledgable.  I really want to try my hand at mead soon!  Weretoad is interested in making beers.
A special, commemorative pin everyone received!  I was sad for a bit… I thought I lost it in the mad rush to change from ritual garb so I could dance around the bonfire in the drum circle!    I found it this morning mixed in with my makeup.  Figures!

It was a wonderful weekend.  I’m so happy we had a chance to go.  I feel a stronger bond with my grove, better connections with fellow ADF Druids from all over, a deeper relationship with Brighid, and a greater drive to study, practice, and worship.  I’m pumped to dive back into the Initiate study program!  If you live near Sherman, NY and have an interest in Druidism, I strongly encourage you to consider attending!  If not, I invite you to look into other Pagan festivals or conferences.  They are great sources of fun, education, inspiration, and friendship.

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The ATC I made for Doreen this Samhain.  I saw she liked foxes and this design came to me.  The skull, of course, is for the ancestors.  I was really touched to learn how much she loved the card!




386829_2642219095545_1257622379_33164238_1011294707_n.jpg 488×707 pixels.

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Here’s the Autumn Equinox ATC I made for Brighde.  It’s Manannan mac Lir.  I love how he turned out!





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(Again, this seems to have vanished from my site…  I don’t know why.  I’m reposting it again for posterity and curious folk.  I’m actually glad for the chance to review it.  I’ve not done much for this study program and I feel inspired!)


Working Outline

By Grey Catsidhe


As part of the Art Guild study program requirements, I am to choose two mediums to focus on.  It was suggested they should force me to focus on different dimensions, brain power, and physical movements.  Choosing a first medium was effortless.  Deciding on a second was a little more challenging, but I think I have found something that will prove helpful and complimentary to my studies.

I’ve been sewing since I was four or five. When I was younger it was my mother who first taught me how to thread a needle and do a basic stitch.  I made a pillow and, quite ambitiously, declared that we should call the local museum and ask about submitting it for their exhibit.  I still have the ratty pillow as a reminder of how proud sewing has always made me, and how a simple craft can inspire me to reach for the stars.  As I’ve grown, I’ve explored other fiber arts such as knitting, crochet, and embroidery.  Textiles is my medium of choice and I’m filled with such joy and purpose whenever I’m engaged in it.  Of course there are frustrating moments – jammed bobbins, uneven seams, knots, misread patterns – but the end product and the feeling of having created something beautiful, unique, and, possibly, useful is so fulfilling.  I am excited that the Artisan Guild study program exists as it gives me an excuse to further explore my favorite craft and how it can become a greater expression of my spirituality.

Choosing a second medium to focus on in the art guild has been a challenge.  There are many arts I would love to learn about  – many of which would compliment my sewing.  At first I thought about sculpting, an art I’ve had experience in and would like to pursue once more.  Jewelry making was also something I considered.  Each would help me create more involved dolls and costume accessories.  When I discussed this with a fellow artist and ADF member, she suggested to me that, although they would be helpful to my sewing, they were three-dimensional mediums and that I am already engaged in such a process when creating dolls and clothing.  I am basically sculpting with fabric when I create my dolls or costumes.

Thinking along these lines, I decided to revisit drawing.  I studied art all through public school and even took a drawing class in college.  Although never a blue ribbon artist, I did develop an understanding and enjoyment for drawing.  I’m proud of some of the pieces I completed.

Although sculpting and jewelry making are obvious compliments to doll making and costuming, drawing will be just as helpful.  Having focused more on textiles than anything else, the drawing skills that were so practiced in high school have suffered.  I would like to practice more so as to be better able to sketch designs for dolls and costumes.  Learning more about perspective and proportions will help me perfect my understanding of anatomy – an important aspect of dolls and costume design!


Will you be able to take classes at a local art center?


Although I’ve had several years of experience, I realize that I have much to learn and that I have many areas to improve upon.  I was lucky to have both a mother and a father who sewed.  I learned a lot from them and a few other family members.  As I grew I started looking at books for further inspiration and technique.  In college I was blessed to meet a fellow sewing enthusiast who shared some of her own tricks with me.  Now I’m an adult, moved away from home, and living in a new town in Northern NY, far from my old teachers and peers.  I am left on my own with my books, websites, and how-to internet videos.   That said, I’ve recently learned about the Thousand Island Arts Center and it seems like just what the proverbial doctor ordered. Although their website is being reconfigured and their classes have yet to be updated, last year there were courses on weaving, spinning, quilt making, pattern drafting, and all manner of traditional arts. Quilting, weaving, and spinning are skills I would love to learn about, and taking any classes would undoubtedly provide me with an opportunity to perfect my skills under master teachers.

As stated, I’ve already taken plenty of drawing classes throughout my educational history. I’m definitely not close-minded to taking more!  Should I see a class that focuses on a skill I feel lacking in, I would be inclined to take it.  I believe I already have an understanding for the basics that most introductory classes present, and that I would most benefit from workshops focusing on a certain area such as portraits, figure drawing, or landscaping.  I would also like to learn how to better use the materials.  As with sewing, the Thousand Island Arts Center has offered pertinent classes in the past and I look forward to seeing their updated calendar for possible consideration.


Will you need to use well-illustrated how-to books and the rigorous school of trial and error?


I’m hopeful that the art center will update its website and class information soon.  In the meantime I have to rely on tutorials, trial and error, and my own tenacious creativity. It’s part of the game, I suppose. Luckily I already have some wonderful books that can help me with the more technical annoyances of sewing such as the Signer Sewing Book by Jessie Hutton and Gladys Cunningham.  It’s old but full of useful information.  I would like to find books on spinning and natural dying.

I am definitely opened to using books to better understand certain drawing techniques.  I think well-illustrated books would be especially helpful with anatomy.  Otherwise I will rely on trial and error to perfect my shading, perspective, and other such skills.
How available, affordable and sustainable are the materials you will need?

I already have many tools. My husband recently revived my old sewing machine, and my father fixed another that will arrive at my home sooner or later. I also do a lot of hand stitching lately which is, I’m sure, more sustainable than using electricity.   I have various sized crochet hooks and knitting needles.  I like to buy fabric and thread from garage sales and second hand stores. I also like to recycle clothing and scraps. Unfortunately this doesn’t always meet my needs and I do buy a lot of fabric and other materials from art and craft stores. I try to research sustainable and organic materials but, unfortunately, many of them are a bit too expensive for me at the moment.


Some more sustainable and affordable materials have crossed my radar recently. I’ve noticed more felt made of recycled plastic for example. There are also some recycled buttons. I’ve found a few skeins of organic/bamboo yarn.

Luckily, as long as I can find thread and keep my needles straight, I will be able to sew. There are always scraps around.  Plastic bags can be turned into “plarn” for knitting or crochet. I would love to learn how to spin wool and eventually weave my own fabric. In Northern NY, there seem to be plenty of sheep and alpaca farmers with homespun wool for purchasing.

I am lucky to have a couple craft stores in the nearby city of Watertown, NY, one of which has a plethora of drawing materials.  In addition, the city of Syracuse, NY, which is about an hour and a half away from my home, has an amazing art supply store with even more materials.  There are plenty of graphite and charcoal pencils, watercolor pencils, and inks for my use.  The art store in Syracuse has an amazing selection of canvases and specialty paper should I ever feel so inclined.


I recently purchased some watercolor pencils and noticed that some brands guarantee that the wood did not come from rain forests.  I favor those brands as deforestation is a very real problem and I want to do all in my power not to contribute to it.  I am not aware of where the pigment comes from, but this is something I would love to learn more about.  I know that some drawing paper is recycled and I would prefer to purchase this should I find it.


Is there anyone in your community who can serve as a resource for you?

The Art Center I mentioned before will, I hope, become a resource. There are also bound to be other local artisans I have yet to meet. Within my own tribe there are plenty of crafty, needle-happy people. My friend Parallax is an accomplished seamstress who also has a degree in art. My mother and father are both talented and are my original sewing teachers. My aunt used to make her own clothing. My husband also studied some art in school.  Although he focused on photography, he has a keen eye for detail and notices when things don’t seem quite right.  In addition, my sister, Sara, her fiancé, Trevor, and my grandmother are all artistic.  My sister and her fiancé majored in art and are rarely seen without a sketchpad.  Sara focuses on interior designs and Trevor’s interest is character design.  My grandmother, though mostly a painter, always starts with a sketch.  These people will be the first I turn to for suggestions and help.  If that fails, there is also the internet with its many tutorials and forums.

Are there opportunities to work and learn collectively with other novices?

Should the Art Center offer more classes, then yes.  I also have my eye on local colleges as many have non-credit classes open to the community and there have been quilting or fiber arts classes offered before.

What kind of assistance or advice will you want/need from the Artisan Guild, if any?

I would expect the guild to be a community of learners at various levels of expertise. I would love to bounce ideas off others and receive honest feedback as well as encouragement. I am always open to advice and help.



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